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News: article from espn wire/news

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    Text:

    Associated Press

    IRVING, Texas -- The line didn't pressure the quarterback. The secondary couldn't keep up with the receivers. The linebackers failed to do much of either.

    Even after watching a replay in slow motion, Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said Monday he was "hard-pressed to find one guy who played up to his potential on defense" in a 35-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the opener.

    "It was all the way across the board," Parcells said. "Don't single out one guy because it was 11."

    The offense made its share of mistakes, such as two lost fumbles and a barrage of penalties that limited Dallas to more than two touchdowns and a field goal out of 423 yards.

    The special teams messed up, too, with punter Mat McBriar losing his job as the holder when he failed to catch a perfect snap on an attempted field goal.

    But it was the defense -- the NFL's top-ranked unit last season -- that disappointed Parcells most.

    "I don't know what it was," Parcells said, "but that wasn't the same group I've seen out there in the past."

    Missing the leadership of injured safety Darren Woodson, desperately thin at cornerback and weakened on the line by the suspension of Leonardo Carson, Dallas did nothing to stop a Minnesota offense that certainly looks capable of keeping its No. 1 ranking from last season.

    The Cowboys allowed five touchdowns, their most under Parcells.

    They allowed 18 of 24 passes to be completed. There also were two pass interference penalties, both putting the Vikings a few steps from the end zone. The only Dallas player credited with a "pass defended" was tackle La'Roi Glover, whose job description rarely includes defending passes.

    The Cowboys didn't cause any fumbles or make any interceptions. They did have two sacks, but neither cost Minnesota any yards.

    Anything else?

    "Lack of emotion," Glover said. "No passion, no fire."

    Parcells said he knew the Vikings would be tough to stop, but expected more from his defense. What bothered him the most was the way they faltered in the third quarter, when the game was still within reach.

    The Cowboys scored just before halftime to get within four points, then the defense allowed a long, quick TD drive. Even after the offense responded to get back within four, the defense buckled again. That stretched the lead to 28-17 and gave Minnesota touchdowns on four straight possessions.

    "We were flat," Glover said. "The score was 21-17 and we went out there like the score was 50-0."

    Their intensity was sapped partly by the big plays Minnesota was making, but also by the fact they weren't making any.

    While Dallas' defense wasn't exactly a highlight waiting to happen last season, Glover said they could always be counted on to make at least one big play, the kind that sends a shock of excitement throughout the unit. He couldn't recall that ever happening against the Vikings, and he said that shortly after watching the game film.

    "If we don't get a tackle for loss, a sack, a big play, a big hit, there's nothing to get excited about," he said. "There's got to be a spark. Somebody's got to create a spark."

    Glover repeatedly said it's up to the players to stay motivated, pointing out that if they can't then the front office will find others who can. He also said that he and other veterans already have started addressing the problem.

    Parcells, meanwhile, will spend Tuesday picking out his own choice words for them.

    Chewing out players following a loss generally isn't the way Parcells works. He prefers to use mistakes as lessons, saving his tough talk for the days after a victory to make sure egos don't inflate.

    "But this could be an exception," ," Parcells said.

    Next up for the Cowboys is Cleveland, an offense that seems to lack the firepower of Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss but just scored 20 points against a Baltimore defense expected to be among the NFL's best.


    This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire.

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